Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where I Wake

This is where I wake every morning. And I'll admit that, if I move, I'm going to miss this room.

The thing is, I don't have to move. I just found out yesterday that I can live here for another six months. But he's raising the price by 100 yuan per month (from 350 to 450), and I'd have to be out after that. Even without the price change, I would feel ridiculous painting this place and really making it home when I'm only going to be here for a little while.

And if I don't, I'm going to feel like I'm in transition that entire time. Few things sound worse.

Right now, actually, I really want to explore the possibility of living in a pingfang--a small, one-story area with different rooms in a square around a small courtyard. My boss isn't so keen on me living in one, though.

Perhaps with good reason.

They're heated with a coal stove, so depending on whether you recently put coal in, in the winter they're usually either really hot or freezing. They don't really have places to wash, so I'd have to use a public shower (but I've been showering less often anyways). They can be sort of unsanitary, with the bathroom the type that you have to have shoveled out. And they tend to be full of coal dust.

But it's a more traditional home, and you get a yard, and it's generally just a more peaceful, natural setting. I'd also have more control over when I could leave and come home, and I could really make the place home. I've never been someone who's shied away from difficult things, and I feel like the times when I'm most comfortable are the times when I fall away from Dad. Perhaps it's idealizing the situation, but I can imagine waking up to cold in the night, throwing some more coal in the stove, and reading the Office of the Night Watch before going back to sleep. I feel like the type of maintenance such a place needs does good things for my soul, even if at times it's a hassle or frustrating.

What I'm saying, in short, is that I may need a good, warm sleeping bag after all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Finally! Some pictures.

Well, it's been a long, hard road, but now I can finally get pictures off my camera. I don't really have time to write, but the other night I went to a performance in the big city square here. It was basically a bunch of kids from a school doing musical performances to celebrate something or other. Here's one side of the square:

Someone saw me walking up (I tend to create a commotion) and grabbed me to sit at what they call here the "Chairman's Table." Anytime there's any kind of performance here, usually there's a table in the very front reserved for VIP's. Seeing as how I'm not Asian, I am automatically a VIP.

A couple of my friends sat up there with me, and we had a lot of fun making faces at the kids and watching all of them doing skits, singing and dancing. It made me think of those performances we used to work so hard to put on in Elementary School. But at the same time, even in the performances that were obviously supposed to emulate American dancing, everything was so distinctly Chinese. It's really interesting, because you know that it's different, but sometimes it's hard to pinpoint what exactly about the performances are so foreign. Or, native, rather. Foreign to me.

Afterwards, I went on a walk around the city, and took a few pictures of the city at night, largely deserted. Here's a street near the square:

And then here's one of the three biggest hotels in town (one of two I'd recommend):

I *told* you guys it was a city. It's not a big city, but it is a city. I have a few more pictures I'm going to ration out since I haven't been taking many. But I hope everyone's been doing well. I have so much to tell! But no time, no time. Soon.